Breaking Postured in Closed Guard to Arm Bar Submissions
Closed Guard: Breaking Posture and the Arm bar by Dan Covel
When you have an opponent in your closed guard they are going to be fighting for two primary things: grips and posture. Breaking down their posture is vital if you are on bottom. It keeps your opponent within your control allowing you to set up submissions and transitions when the time is right. If someone is able to stand in your closed guard and straighten their back, you have immediately opened yourself up to a world of problems. It will be hard if not impossible to sweep a person from this position, as they are in the stronger, more dominant position.
Many BJJ martial artists learn the closed guard as their first "guard system" and leave it there. But, there are many variations to closed guard and many submission attacks and BJJ sweeps that you can hit from closed guard. Neil Melanson is one of those grapplers who doesn't "just do jiu jitsu". His experience in Wrestling, Sambo and Catch Wrestling make him one of the most saught out coaches for No gi and MMA grappling. His approach the closed guard and it's variations is quite unique and eye opening.
In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu we can exploit the lapels on the gi to create weight and tension on our opponent’s neck, breaking their posture. Let us take a look at Marcelo Graci Black Belt, Dan Covel’s, method for breaking down an opponent’s posture from closed guard. Watch the video below and then we will break down his technique. Check it out!
Dan Covel has one of the best closed guards you will see, making him the person to learn this technique from. Covel emphasizes that from closed guard you are looking to break down the plane of your opponent’s back so that it is parallel to the mat and no longer vertical. You are looking to control their arms at their elbows. At the same time you are controlling their arms, bring you knees to your chest, pulling the elbows out. Before going any further, pause the video and take note of how high up Dan Covel’s hips are on Bernardo Faria. This is an important detail. By pulling the opponent’s elbows out and driving your knees to your chest you for him to come forwards and post with their hands in an attempt to keep their face from smashing against the mat. From here Dan is looking to get a grip over the back of the head. Notice that he is not going for a lapel grip, but rather a right angle with his elbow, locking hands with a gable grip, making things really tight. From here if his opponent tries to stand up in this position his head is still stuck down so long as you maintain your grip. This gives Dan an opportunity to exploit his opponent’s gi by opening up the lapel and feeding it under the arm up to his other hand. This makes the grip even tighter and more dominating from this position, and frees up Covels hand to grab the angle, invert, open his guard, reach for the far leg, dropping his leg, and pushing against his body for the sweep. The position Dan lands in sets him up for an easy arm bar as the submission.
New BJJ practitioners might be a little overwhelmed by the inverted open guard technique Dan Covel uses in this move but it is easier than you might think once you grab that lapel and keep your momentum going. As Faria points out, a key part of this position is breaking the posture with the elbows and legs, and then keeping their posture broken. Everything from here becomes easier for Covel just because he has broken down his opponent’s posture. So even if you do not feel comfortable moving on to inverted open guard, remember these fundamentals and explore your options for sweeping or submitting your opponent. Just keep it playful and stick to the basics and you will have no problems growing your BJJ skill.